Let’s Eat: Boca Oyster Bar–Mouth Of The Harbor–Cracks Open In Redevelopment Area

Mayor Joe Ganim cuts ribbon with Robert Christoph Jr. at opening of Boca Oyster Bar

Former Republican State Senator Rob Russo looked upon roughly 300 people Wednesday night at the opening of the Boca Oyster Bar, a waterfront pearl at the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area with views unseen in 100 years. “If one city is making progress in Connecticut it’s Bridgeport,” the lawyer said, adding did anyone think this would happen? For more images from event see here.

Many visitors had their mouths open at the views, even on a rainy night. And with a name like Boca–mouth in Spanish–why not?

Robert Christoph Jr. points to his dad at opening.

Skeptics abounded. Decades in the making, where an an old industrial power plant had shuttered the waterfront, visitors now have access to the restaurant, a 200-slip marina and a public boardwalk along the harbor. Close to Downtown, it’s taken tens of millions of state and federal reclamation dollars to clean up the peninsula and a major investment commitment from developers Robert Christoph Sr. and Jr. who are moving their Miami development company RCI Marine to the location.

Boca crowd at bar.

City Councilman Ernie Newton recalled the news conference in 1983, he was then City Council president, when then-Mayor Lenny Paoletta had announced a vision to resuscitate a troubled area of the East Side and East End. “I can’t believe it’s finally here.”

Oysters, clams, mussels, anyone?
Sampling of Boca apps.
Where’s the beef? Here.

Wednesday night Mayor Joe Ganim joined city and state officials as well as the Christophs heralding a new destination, across the street from Bass Pro Shops the anchor tenant wooed under the mayoral administration of Bill Finch.

City Councilman Ernie Newton at opening of Boca.

Guests were treated to an assortment of delights–filet tips, bruschetta, clams casino, tuna tartare–encircling an expansive bar overlooking the harbor. You can dine inside or out. Fishing tournaments and boat shows, say the Christophs, will enliven the harbor.

City Councilman Marcus Brown, mayoral aide Tom Gaudett and Jim Himes congressional staffer Lauren Gray enjoy opening.
Yanni Taxiltaridis, general manager of Boca with city Economic Development Director Tom Gill.
What’s a new place without a toe hold. The person who guesses the owner of this foot wins a lifetime of oysters.
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35 comments

  1. In reviewing the menu prices it is clear this establishment will not, and is not intended to, attract your average Bridgeport resident.

    Gentrification???

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    1. Maria,that’s unfair.The restaurant looks beautiful,it’s not intended to be an affordable restaurant to go every night.Those prices are comparable to any higher end restaurants in the area,Ralph&Richie’s,and the little tyrant’s place come to mind..Just cause it’s in Bpt,it doesn’t mean it has to be affordable to most Bpt residents.It will be nice to have another restaurant choice in the city.

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  2. First day at my City job, July 23, 1983 at the Board meeting I was running, there were Paoletta, Stollman and Frasinelli announcing the project
    Hey, 36 years and one billion dollars later and look what we got
    Do the math and the reporting

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  3. A lifetime of oysters.. The foot belongs to Nancy Creed. Now Lennie Grimaldi– will you stand by a lifetime of Oysters. For Oysters it was worth it to post!!!

    Nancy Creed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. It looks great and i’m happy to see that Bridgeport can have such a great destination to go to , but I hope that they do put in a more affordable option for a meal. Bridgeport needs to make sure that all can go and have a good time but at those prices and Boca being the only option , we can all be hearing the crickets

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  5. Well I’ll be damned, a steak from $42 to $60? It’s white America’s way of keeping Black’s and Puerto Ricans out of Boca! Don’t get me wrong there will be a few that goes to this cost prohibitive restaurant, but for the most part most of us can feed two people for the price of that Bone in Ribeye.

    Ernie, was that the dream of you and Mayor Lenny Paoletta, a restaurant that is so damn expensive that the very people who’s homes you took to build this can’t afford to go there? Shit man that’s been the American dream for over 400 years, nothing new here. Ain’t that a bitch!

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      1. Ron
        You are so wrong Our civic block will create New Housing in the Eastend with homeownership Rentals, Senior Housing etc. You have never seen the plans the NRZ has put together for our community. Its the first time people in the Eastend will have access to our beautiful waterfront. We need nice places to eat in our community. Ralph and Richies downtown is a nice place to eat. The civic block has in its plans a beautiful first class Ralph and Richies style eatery in the Eastend with a banquet Hall being plan. We also received a grant from the State and city on studying two way traffic on stratford ave and connecticut ave. We have a Developer who grow up in the eastend and is investing his own money into this project.Please call Keith Williams President of our NRZ if you don’t take my Word.

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        1. Ernie, I’m sure that the East End NRZ has some excellent plans but money talks and bullshit walks and those in the East End will be priced out of their community. You are talking about waterfront property, Ernie, PLEASE!!!! NO WAY.

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      2. You’re right, Ron. Eventually a cabal of developers will offer huge chunks of money to property owners, buy up many of the houses in the East End and turn it into a playground for the upwardly mobile.

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  6. how about a nice bar, like a world of beer now…..yes died in Milford, but that wasn’t overlooking the water. They have a very affordable food menu as well

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  7. Problem number one is who will go there from Southport, Westport, New Canaan I the middle of the week? Nothing else to do but go to Bass Poro and I don’t see the same people going to the Port during the week.
    Problem number two is who till go there between October and March? Nothing else to do.

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  8. Lots of negativity in this thread.Bpt hardly gets ANY new development since Joe has been in office this time.Finally something nice opens and some of you sound like you’re hoping it fails.Crazy..

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    1. Harvey, did you look at the prices on the menu? How does a family of four who live on the East End goes out for dinner after church on a Sunday to Boca Oyster Ba and they get the bill after dinner, Harvey, how do they pay that bill? The patrons who will go to Boca Oyster Ba won’t be coming from the East End, in fact the patrons who will come to Boca Oyster Ba will get off the I95 exit 29 go straight down Seaview Ave. and back home to the suburbs.

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      1. I understand what you’re saying but by that logic,only McDonalds, Denny’s, Popeye Chicken type places should open up down there, which maybe they will eventually.But I think it’s a mistake to develop that beautiful waterfront with fast food type places, nail salons, check cashing businesses, etc, just to “fit” in the neighborhood.Bpt needs more destination places.

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        1. Harvey, in real life in 2019 on the East End there are NO McDonald’s, Denny’s, Popeye but there are plenty liquor stores and Chinese Takeout Restaurants but no pharmacy, no supermarket, no bank, no gas station but they are moving on up to the westside to that penthouse in the sky, just like George Jefferson said.

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          1. That’s so true and now, since councilman Michael Defilippo has changed the law to help only himself, there can be even more liquor stores placed even closer together. Cheers!

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        2. That’s true, Harvey. What’s also true is Ganim and Testa attracting these sorts of high end businesses fo0r their well heeled cronies to hang out and pretend they are masters of a universe beyond Fairfield County.

          What is also true is the economic disparities in Bridgeport. The ruling elite, i.e. all the municipal employees that owe their daily bread to political connections and business suits that want to curry favor with City Hall will have a second place to dine while many of the people of the city of Bridgeport will continue to live with a lousy school system and economic inequality. Little Joe doesn’t give a shit about them.

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          1. Derek, I can’t argue anything you said.My previous point was just that it’s nice to look at something in Bpt rather than empty plots of land and abandoned buildings.
            On a related subject,mayor Finch deserves credit for that development, Joe was in a federal penitentiary serving time for stealing every last dollar he could from us when that development got started.I’ve never heard Joe give credit to Finch as Joe poses with the big scissors.Still hoping indictments come down soon.

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          2. It’s doubtful many Bridgeport residents are employed at the fabulous new oyster bar. I like seeing construction in Bridgeport rather than empty lots. I’d also like to see job creation and vastly improved educational opportunities.

            Little Joe is negotiating with the tribes to build a casino here. A hotel/casino would create many jobs paying $15.00-$20.00/hour, maybe more. That’s all fine and good. It also shortchanges the community. The city’s potential for skilled and professional jobs is woefully underused. The city’s school children are prevented from receiving a decent education. Why? Firstly the Board Of Education is preoccupied with infighting, backstabbing, pettiness, politics and control issues. All of that bullshit is more important than the actual reason the board members were elected to begin with, ensuring a quality education in the city’s public education system. Secondly, City Hall has incrementally reduced the education budget over time. Ganim tried to reduce it even more in his most recent budget until the City Council stood up and said “Not so fast, Bud…”

            I’m sure the oyster bar will do well. Good luck to them. It’s about time City Hall went back to work for the people of the city of Bridgeport. WE live here, not the well heeled suits that pay their tithe through contributions to Joseph P. Ganim’s re-election campaign.

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          3. Joe Ganim wants to attract businesses to Bridgeport. He also wants to attract employees to Bridgeport, bypassing the people of the city of Bridgeport. City Hall will supply the cooks, chambermaids, porters and janitors while the skilled labor will be trucked in from the ‘burbs. Way to go, Joe. Can’t wait to see you on Black Rock Day.

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  9. The biggest challenge for Boca is going to be having a local base. With those prices locals, from Bridgeport, will make this a one to two time a year visit. In order to survive every restaurant needs that base. Ralph and Riches is not comparable to Boca. Ralph and Riches has a solid local base that is decades strong and they still have entree’s on the menu that are 15.00 affordable for those who cannot afford the high priced items. Shell in Bones in New Haven has been very successful but, they are also downstairs from a very active yacht club, the owners have a strong following as they own both Geronimo in New Haven and Fairfield and they hired an Executive Chef that is a former New Haven restaurant owner with a solid following. I do believe that all Bridgeport residents want more and better for Bridgeport but, they also want to be able to enjoy the more and better. With these prices I don’t see that happening. I certainly do not see residents on the East Side frequenting this establishment. In addition, this establishment, without local support, will hear crickets in the winter. The patio, just like Shell and Bones will not be used in those cold winter months regardless of the fire pits. Shell and Bones, even with a local base, strong reputations, fantastic food and the yacht club still struggle in the winter, I work with one of their Chefs. Boca would be great and successful out of the shoot, at those prices, if Bridgeport were a tourist destination or if they had a former local following. People will pay more for a good meal on vacation and are more willing to pay for higher priced food if they have been following the Chefs/Owners on their local journeys in the culinary world. If Boca really wants Bridgeports residents to partake in their business, they would start off with lower prices to capture a base. or at least put some affordable items on the menu. Coming out of the shoot without anything affordable to the locals will only hurt a business. It’s better to have lower prices and more business than high prices and no business. Its F & B basics 101. I wish them the best, I am actually looking forward to trying it out but, on my budget it would be a one/two time a year visit.

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    1. Mary, great points but they won’t do anything that you wrote, instead this apart of a the bigger plan of gentrification on the East End. Again we are taking about waterfront property and as we know God isn’t making more waterfront property. This area must be taken over and the residents must be relocated some place else in order to complete the master plan of “gentrification.”

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  10. Perhaps if all the development pictured in the brochures over the last 30 years actually happened, a pricey restaurant such as Boca would fit in.

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  11. The type of development that is imagined at Steel Point has always been casino-dependent. If the casino isn’t there within 18 months — with a direct, enclosed connection to the Boat House building — we’ll see the whole development revert to a housing-themed, “rescue” development, which itself will be new-train-station dependent. The latter concept is not cost-effective for any entity that might be involved and will do nothing for Bridgeport — it is a Ned Lamont/Gold Coast-hatched idea (workforce housing for riff-raff that can be imported to the Stamford Area in the AM and sent back to B-port and the B-port- Area in the PM…). It should be kept in mind that this Gold-Coast train station (WHICH WILL DO NOTHING FOR BRDIEGPORT) won’t happen without TOLL$.

    The latter gubernatorial obsession is, no doubt, the reason for all of the delusional casino glee… Ned is in Hartford to keep the status quo… A Bridgeport casino gives power back to Bridgeport, which is the anti-thesis of the Gold Coast primacy/CT status-quo plan of the Connecticut oligarchy and their GA lackey-force… All of the talk of a Bridgeport casino is occurring by way of placating the Bridgeport delegation/electorate at TOLL-VOTE time… After the TOLL-VOTE goes through, the Bridgeport Casino will fall through — because of “details to be worked out,” such as how to handle the new MGM litigation in the pipeline and, of course, finding a source of money to fund such a venture by the tribes (the latte of which are just playing along with Ned as he buys TOLL-VOTE time with the Bridgeport Casino carrot-and-stick, with the tribes getting a sports-betting monopoly for playing the game…).

    Now, we can be pretty confident that the GA isn’t going to give Bridgeport an “emergency casino” in the waning hours of the session just because the Boat House/shuck-house opened (just in time for Mayoral Election Season!) across from the Bridgeport Coal-/Smoke-Stack Power Plant. (What a view! — Literally breath-taking for those wit respiratory disease…).

    Bridgeport is getting played again — from inside and out… It has already been decided in Greenwich — NO CASINO FOR YOU! (Nor anything else that restores viability and self-determination to B-Port…) Ned is playing Joe (and us!), and Joe is playing us and his campaign contributors… Just more (appropriate) “shuckin’ and jivin'” in B-port at its new oyster bar (which opened just in time to rope-in some “shuckers”…).
    B-Port and its new oyster bar

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  12. With all the diverse ethnic populations in Bridgeport perhaps this should be pushed as a panoply of Portuguese, Greek, Soul, local sourced, vegetarian, Greek, Caribbean, Peruvian, Brazilian, etc small businesses- real food for real people- and not just pure pathetic pretention….

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